Scepticism and Irreligion in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

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This volume deals with scepticism and irreligion in the 17th and 18th century. The various contributions seek to clarify and to understand the challenges made then to both the framework of thinking about God and religion and the intellectual systems that had supported religious thinking. Ample attention is given to early modern interpretations of ancient Pyrrhonism and also to biblical criticism.

Contributors include: Susanna Åkerman, Silvia Berti, Constance Blackwell, Olivier Bloch, Harry M. Bracken, James E. Force, Alan Gabbey, Sarah Hutton, David S. Katz, Alan Charles Kors, Lothar Kreimendahl, Sylvia Murr, Ezequiel de Olaso, Richard Popkin, Theo Verbeek, Ernestine van der Wall, Richard A. Watson, and Ruth Whelan.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a valuable work for specialists and necessary for research libraries."
Richard M. Golden, Religious Studies Review, 1994.

"…offre un ensemble d'études particulières d'où transparaissent des lignes de force et des fractures fort utiles à l'historien des idées."
F. Moureau, Dix-Huitieme Siecle, 1994.

"Au total, un volume riche, érudit et cohérent qui ne craint pas la discussion interne..."
Willem Frijhoff, Justificatif, 1994.

"Scepticism and Irreligion contains plenty of interesting material, and is an important addition to the literature on the nature of unbelief in early modern Europe."
Scott Mandelbrote, Dutch Review of Church History, 1994.

From a July-August 1990 conference near The Hague, Netherlands, 17 papers present a variety of views on early-modern European challenges to the accepted framework for thinking about God and religion and to the intellectual framework that supported such thinking. Descarte, Hobbes, the Cambridge Platonists, the early Dutch enlightenment, views of ancient scepticism, and Biblical criticism are among the offerings. No subject index, among other reasons, because the authors would not give up their favorites in order to harmonize the spelling of common terms. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Richard Popkin, Ph.D. Columbia 1950, is presently Professor Emeritus, Washington University, St. Louis and Adjunct Professor History and Philosophy at UCLA. He has published nine books, including three with Brill: Isaac La Peyrère, his Life, his Work, his Influence (1987); Millenarianism and Thought 1650-1800, (ed. 1988), Menasseh ben Israel and his World ed. with Y. Kaplan and H. Mechoulan, 1989) and The Third Force in Seventeenth Century Philosophy.

Arjo Vanderjagt (1948) is Associate Professor at the University of Groningen. He has published books on Anselm of Canterbury and on late-medieval and Renaissance intellectual history.

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Table of Contents

Introduction, Richard Popkin

1. Gassendi's scepticism as a religious attitude, Sylvia Murr
2. From "learned ignorance" to scepticism: Descartes and Calvinist orthodoxy, Theo Verbeek
3. Descartes' scepticism, Richard A. Watson
4. Hobbes: religion and ideology, Ezequiel de Olaso
5. "A disease incurable": Scepticism and the Cambridge Platonists, Alan Gabbey
6. The answer to scepticism of Queen Christina's academy, Susanna Åkerman
7. Science, philosophy, and atheism: Edward Stillingfleet's defence of religion, Sarah Hutton
8. Orthodoxy and scepticism in the early Dutch enlightenment, Ernestine van der Wall
9. Isaac Vossius and the English biblical critics 1650-1689, David S. Katz
10. Skepticism and the problem of atheism in early-modern France, Alan Charles Kors
11. Scepticism and the Traité des trois imposteurs, Silvia Berti
12. The wisdom of Simonides: Bayle and La Mothe Le Vayer, Ruth Whelan
13. Bayle's attack on natural theology, Harry M. Bracken
14. Das Theodizeeproblem und Bayles fideistischer Lösungsversuch, Lothar Kreimendahl
15. Biblical interpretation, Newton and English Deism, James E. Force
16. Scepticisme et religion dans la Réponse à un théologien du médecin Gaultier et sa posterité clandestine, Olivier Bloch
17. Diogenes Laertius's Life of Pyrrho and the interpretation of ancient scepticism in the history of philosophy: Stanley through Brucker to Tennemann, Constance Blackwell


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